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Welfare ban puts kids at risk

A little-known ban on welfare benefits to female drug offenders affects roughly 92,000 women, according to a new study by the Sentencing Project. Currently, 42 states enforce part or all of the six-year-old ban, a provision of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act. The ban does not apply to women convicted of murder or other violent crimes, but only to those who served time for drug offenses.

The report finds that, as a result, more than 135,000 children are at risk of neglect, delinquency, and drug abuse because of reduced family income. In addition, it says that African-Americans and Hispanics represent 48 percent of those affected. The study calls for an immediate repeal of the ban.

Made in USA, sent from China

Beijing - In a growing fight over the transpacific flow of junk e-mail or "spam," delegates to China's parliament criticized Western Internet administrators for blocking e-mails from China.

Because servers in China are less monitored, marketing groups often relay spam through Chinese Internet service providers - causing much of the junk e-mail in the US to appear to come from China. Consequently, a growing number of network administrators in the US are blocking e-mails from servers in China. Meanwhile, at the annual meeting of the National People's Congress, deputies called for laws punishing the distribution of junk e-mail.

Paying for plastic bags

DUBLIN, ireland - In an effort to address its growing waste problem, Ireland slapped a 13-cent surchage on plastic shopping bags.

An estimated 1.2 million shopping bags are handed out at Irish cash registers every year.

For the most part, government efforts in recent months to control waste have been thwarted. For example, protest groups have blocked the development of several new incinerators.

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